Six more UK returnees test positive, 50 quarantined
Six more passengers who returned to India from the UK, late on Tuesday night, tested positive for Covid-19 after more than 500 underwent testing at Delhi airport on Wednesday. Officials said 50 of over 950 passengers tested at the airport on Tuesday and Wednesday have also been quarantined for coming in direct contact with those who tested positive.
On Tuesday, two flights landed at the Delhi airport from the UK, one at 11.30pm with 240 passengers and another with 274 at 11.55 pm. All the 514 passengers were subject to RT-PCR tests at the Delhi airport as mandated by the central government in order to stop the spread of a new strain of the Sars-Cov-2 that emerged in the UK and is believed to spread faster.
Since Monday, after India suspended all flights to and from the UK between December 23 and December 31, four flights have landed in Delhi from UK. While on Tuesday, five passengers were tested positive out of more than 470 who took the test, six more were found to be infected out of 514 passengers tested on Wednesday.
Dr. Gauri Agarwal, founder and director of Genestrings diagnostics that is conducting the RT-PCR tests at the Delhi airport, on Wednesday, said, “Since Monday night, close to 1,000 passengers who arrived in Delhi, 11 passengers were found positive. These 11 samples are duly stored in cold storage and sent to National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi for genome sequencing. We do not know yet if any of those found positive are infected with the new UK strain,” Agarwal said.
Flyers complain of mismanagement at IGIA
A number of passengers, who arrived from the UK at the Delhi airport close to midnight on Tuesday, said they had to spend more than 15 hours to be able to exit the airport.
Kamini Saraswat, 28, an IT professional working in London, said she deboarded the aircraft around 12.15am on Wednesday but her RT-PCR test could only be conducted after more than nine hours at 9.30am. “Before our immigration clearance, we were made to sit in a room and our details were noted down. For hours, there was no proper communication. The seating arrangements were very poor. We spent 4-5 hours sitting on the floor. After immigration clearance at 6.30am, we waited for our turn to get the test done. We again waited for at least four hours with no tea or refreshment. After the test that was conducted at 9.30 am, we were told to wait again for five hours for the report,” said Saraswat.
Many passengers also complained of missing their connecting flights due to the “unexpected delay”. Haze Souza, 25, who had to take a connecting flight to Goa, said she landed in Delhi at 11.55pm on Tuesday but her test was conducted only by 10 am on Wednesday. “That is 10 hours of delay. I missed my flight to Goa. At the airport, the management was very poor. There was no communication, lack of basic services like refreshments, drinking water and even place to sit. Many of us sat on the floors near the conveyor belts as the lounge was full and there was no place to sit,” said Souza, who was travelling home for Christmas.
Another tweeted, “Where is social distancing? No one is telling these people to maintain.” Videos of passengers sitting on the floor and near baggage collection area also were widely shared on social media on Wednesday.
When asked about the allegations over poor arrangements, Delhi airport operator DIAL (Delhi International Airport Ltd) did not offer a comment.